ZF Readies New Airbag Technologies

ZF Friedrichshafen AG is showcasing several new airbags and other advanced safety systems at this week’s Airbag symposium in Mannheim, Germany.

One of the airbags is designed to deploy externally from the side of the vehicle to increase the “crumple zone” during a side-impact accident. ZF says tests have shown that the airbag can reduce the injury severity of vehicle occupants by as much as 40%.

The supplier also is developing “dual-contour” airbags designed for flexible seating positions for future self-driving vehicles. ZF says the airbags will adapt to various seating positions, such as fully reclined and facing other passengers.

The company also is refining its center airbag system that the company plans to launch next year. Deployed from the center console, the airbag is designed to prevent occupants from bumping into each other or hitting hard surfaces during side collisions. ZF says such airbags may be necessary to earn future 5-star crash safety ratings in Europe.

The company also plans to introduce a lightweight knee airbag next year. The system features an industry-first fabric housing that is said to be 30% lighter than traditional metal structures.